Genießen Sie diesen Titel jetzt und Millionen mehr, in einer kostenlosen Testversion

Kostenlos für 30 Tage, dann für $9.99/Monat. Jederzeit kündbar.

Überrascht von Freude: Eine Autobiografie

Überrascht von Freude: Eine Autobiografie

Vorschau lesen

Überrascht von Freude: Eine Autobiografie

Bewertungen:
4/5 (29 Bewertungen)
Länge:
295 Seiten
4 Stunden
Freigegeben:
Mar 4, 2014
ISBN:
9783765571510
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

"Gott ist, wenn ich das sagen darf, sehr skrupellos." C.S. Lewis

Spannend beschreibt C. S. Lewis seinen Weg vom bekennenden Atheisten zum überzeugten Christen.
Eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit dem Christentum - und ein sehr ehrliches Buch.
Das Buch kann auf zweierlei Weise eingeordnet werden: als echte Autobiografie oder als eine Art geistiger Roman, sozusagen das Forschen eines Detektivs nach dem roten Faden und dem Motiv.
Freigegeben:
Mar 4, 2014
ISBN:
9783765571510
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor


Ähnlich wie Überrascht von Freude

Ähnliche Bücher

Buchvorschau

Überrascht von Freude - C. S. Lewis

Lewis

ERSTES KAPITEL

Die ersten Jahre

Glücklich, doch für solch Glück

zu schlecht geschützt.

Milton

Ich wurde im Winter 1898 in Belfast als Sohn eines Rechtsanwalts und einer Pfarrerstochter geboren. Meine Eltern hatten nur zwei Kinder, beides Söhne, und ich war der um drei Jahre jüngere.

Unsere Prägung war von zwei sehr verschiedenen Zügen bestimmt. Mein Vater gehörte zur ersten Generation in seiner Familie, die den akademischen Stand erreichte. Sein Großvater war ein walisischer Bauer gewesen; sein Vater, ein Selfmademan, hatte als Arbeiter angefangen, war dann nach Irland ausgewandert und wurde schließlich Teilhaber der Firma Macilwaine und Lewis, „Kesselmacher, Ingenieure und Eisenschiffsbauer".

Meine Mutter war eine Hamilton und hatte viele Generationen von Pfarrern, Anwälten, Seeleuten und dergleichen hinter sich; mütterlicherseits, durch die Warrens, ging ihre Linie bis auf einen normannischen Ritter zurück, dessen Gebeine in der Battie Abbey liegen.

Dem Temperament nach waren die beiden Familien, von denen ich abstamme, ebenso verschieden voneinander wie nach ihrem Ursprung. Die Verwandten meines Vaters waren echte Waliser, sentimental, leidenschaftlich und wortgewaltig, zu Zorn und Milde gleichermaßen leicht zu bewegen; Menschen, die viel lachten und viel weinten und nicht viel Talent zum Glücklichsein besaßen.

Die Hamiltons waren von kühlerer Art. Ihr Denken war von Urteilsvermögen und Sinn für Ironie geprägt, und das Talent zum Glücklichsein hatten sie in reichem Maß – sie gingen geradewegs darauf zu wie erfahrene Reisende auf die besten Plätze in einem Zug.

Schon in meinen ersten Lebensjahren war ich mir des lebhaften Gegensatzes zwischen der heiteren und gelassenen Zuneigung meiner Mutter und den Höhen und Tiefen im Gefühlsleben meines Vaters bewusst, und dies erzeugte in mir, lange bevor ich alt genug war, dem einen Namen zu geben, ein gewisses Misstrauen oder eine Abneigung gegen Emotionen als etwas Unangenehmes, Peinliches, ja Gefährliches.

Nach den Maßstäben jener Zeit und Gegend waren meine Eltern beide belesene oder „kluge" Leute. Meine Mutter war in ihrer Jugend eine vielversprechende Mathematikerin gewesen und hatte sich am Queens College in Belfast den Grad eines B. A. erworben; und bevor sie starb, konnte sie mir noch meinen ersten Unterricht in Französisch und Latein erteilen. Sie war eine unersättliche Leserin guter Romane und ich glaube, die Merediths und Tolstois, die ich geerbt habe, waren für sie angeschafft worden.

Mein Vater hatte ganz andere Vorlieben. Seine Schwäche war die Redekunst, als junger Mann hatte er selbst vor politischen Kreisen in England gesprochen. Wäre er finanziell unabhängig gewesen, er hätte sicherlich eine politische Laufbahn angestrebt. Er wäre wahrscheinlich sogar erfolgreich gewesen – es sei denn, sein Sinn für Ehrenhaftigkeit, der so fein war, dass es ans Quijotehafte grenzte, hätte ihn unlenkbar gemacht – denn er besaß viele der Gaben, die ein Parlamentarier früher brauchte: ein ansprechendes Äußeres, eine volltönende Stimme, eine beträchtliche Geistesgegenwart, Wortgewandtheit und ein gutes Gedächtnis. Trollopes politische Romane liebte er sehr; heute nehme ich an, dass er stellvertretend seine eigenen Sehnsüchte erfüllte, indem er der Laufbahn des Phineas Finn folgte. Er schätzte Lyrik, soweit sie rhetorische oder pathetische Elemente oder beides aufwies; Othello, glaube ich, war sein Lieblingsstück von Shakespeare.

An humoristischen Autoren von Dickens bis W.W. Jacobs hatte er fast durchweg große Freude; und er war selbst beinahe konkurrenzlos der beste Geschichtenerzähler, den ich je gehört habe; jedenfalls der beste von seiner Art, der Art nämlich, die alle Figuren abwechselnd durch reichlichen Einsatz von Grimassen, Gesten und Pantomime darstellt. Das größte Vergnügen für ihn war es, wenn er sich für ein Stündchen mit einem oder zwei meiner Onkel in ein Zimmer zurückziehen und Anekdoten mit ihnen austauschen konnte.

Freilich hatten weder er noch meine Mutter auch nur das Geringste für die Art Literatur übrig, der ich mich verschrieb, kaum dass ich mir meine Bücher selbst aussuchen konnte. Keiner von ihnen hatte je auf den Klang der Hörner aus Elfenland gelauscht. Es gab kein Exemplar von Keats oder Shelley im Haus, und was von Coleridge vorhanden war, wurde, soviel ich weiß, niemals aufgeschlagen. Wenn ich also ein Romantiker bin, tragen meine Eltern keine Schuld daran. Tennyson freilich schätzte mein Vater, aber nur den Tennyson von In Memoriam und Locksley Hall. Über die Lotus Eaters oder den Morte d’Arthur habe ich von ihm nie ein Wort gehört. Meine Mutter hatte, wie man mir sagte, für Lyrik überhaupt keinen Sinn.

Zusätzlich zu guten Eltern, gutem Essen und einem Garten (der mir damals riesengroß erschien), in dem ich spielen konnte, genoss ich zu Beginn meines Lebens noch zwei weitere Segnungen. Eine davon war unser Kindermädchen Lizzie Endicott, an der selbst die unbestechliche Erinnerung der Kindheit keinen Makel entdecken kann – nichts als Freundlichkeit, Fröhlichkeit und gesunden Menschenverstand. Diesen Unsinn mit den vornehmen „Kinderfräulein" gab es damals noch nicht. Durch Lizzie konnten wir unsere Wurzeln im Landvolk von County Down schlagen. Dadurch gingen wir in zwei ganz verschiedenen sozialen Sphären ein und aus. Diesem Umstand verdanke ich meine lebenslange Immunität gegen die bisweilen anzutreffende Gleichsetzung von Kultiviertheit mit Tugend. Noch bevor mein Erinnerungsvermögen einsetzte, hatte ich begriffen, dass man bestimmte Scherze mit Lizzie machen konnte, die im Wohnzimmer völlig fehl am Platze waren; und ebenso, dass Lizzie, soweit das einem Menschen möglich ist, schlicht und einfach gut war.

Der andere Segen war mein Bruder. Obwohl er drei Jahre älter war als ich, erschien er mir nie wie ein großer Bruder; wir waren von Anfang an Verbündete. Dennoch waren wir sehr verschieden. Unsere frühesten Bilder (und ich kann mich an keine Zeit erinnern, in der wir nicht unausgesetzt gemalt und gezeichnet hätten) bringen es an den Tag. Er zeichnete Schiffe, Züge und Schlachten; ich dagegen zeichnete, wenn ich ihn nicht gerade nachahmte, das, was wir beide „Tiere in Kleidern" nannten – die anthropomorphen Tiere der Kinderliteratur. Seine erste Geschichte – als der Ältere ging er vor mir vom Zeichnen zum Schreiben über – trug den Titel Der junge Radscha. Schon damals hatte er Indien zu „seinem Land gemacht; das meine war „Tierland.

Ich glaube nicht, dass unter den heute noch existierenden Zeichnungen welche sind, die aus den hier geschilderten ersten sechs Jahren meines Lebens stammen, doch ich habe eine Menge, die nicht viel jünger sein können. Nach ihnen zu urteilen, scheint mir, dass ich der Begabtere von uns beiden war. Schon sehr früh konnte ich Bewegung zeichnen – Figuren, die so aussahen, als liefen oder kämpften sie tatsächlich – und die Perspektive ist gut. Doch nirgends, weder in den Arbeiten meines Bruders noch in meinen eigenen, findet sich auch nur ein einziger Strich, der einer noch so rudimentären Vorstellung von Schönheit gefolgt wäre. Da sind Dramatik, Komik, Einfallsreichtum; aber ein Gefühl für Gestaltung ist nicht einmal im Keim vorhanden, und die sichtliche Unkenntnis natürlicher Formen ist erschreckend. Bäume sehen aus wie Wattebäusche, die auf Pfosten stecken, und nichts weist darauf hin, dass einer von uns die Form auch nur eines der Blätter des Gartens kannte, in dem wir täglich spielten.

Jetzt, wo ich darüber nachdenke, scheint mir, dass dieses Fehlen der Schönheit kennzeichnend für unsere Kindheit war. Kein Bild an den Wänden meines Vaterhauses zog je unsere Aufmerksamkeit auf sich – und es gab auch keines, das sie verdient hätte. Wir bekamen nie ein schönes Gebäude zu Gesicht oder ließen uns auch nur träumen, dass ein Gebäude schön sein könnte.

Meine ersten ästhetischen Erfahrungen, wenn sie denn ästhetisch waren, waren nicht von dieser Art; sie bezogen sich nicht auf die Form, sondern waren bereits unheilbar romantisch. Eines Tages in jener allerersten Zeit brachte mein Bruder den Deckel einer Keksdose ins Kinderzimmer, den er mit Moos bedeckt und mit Zweigen und Blumen geschmückt hatte, sodass daraus ein Spielzeuggarten oder ein Spielzeugwald wurde. Das war das erste Mal, dass mir Schönheit begegnete. Was der echte Garten nicht vermocht hatte, brachte der Spielzeuggarten fertig. Er machte mir die Natur bewusst – freilich nicht als Schatzkammer von Formen und Farben, sondern als etwas Kühles, Tauiges, Frisches, vor Leben Sprühendes.

Ich glaube nicht, dass mir dieser Eindruck in jenem Moment sehr wichtig war, aber in der Erinnerung gewann er bald eine große Bedeutung. Solange ich lebe, wird meine Vorstellung vom Paradies etwas von dem Spielzeuggarten meines Bruders haben.

Und jeden Tag hatten wir die „grünen Hügel", wie wir sie nannten, vor Augen; die niedrige Linie der Castlereagh Hills, die wir vom Kinderzimmer aus sehen konnten. Sie waren nicht sehr weit weg, aber für Kinder waren sie völlig unerreichbar. Sie lehrten mich die Sehnsucht und machten mich, zum Wohl oder Wehe, bevor ich sechs Jahre alt war, zu einem andächtigen Verehrer der Blauen Blume.

Waren ästhetische Erfahrungen selten, so gab es religiöse Erfahrungen überhaupt nicht. Manche Leute haben aus meinen Büchern den Eindruck gewonnen, ich sei streng puritanisch erzogen worden, aber das ist keineswegs der Fall. Ich lernte das Übliche, wurde zum Beten angehalten und als die Zeit dafür reif war, wurde ich in die Kirche mitgenommen. Ich nahm selbstverständlich hin, was man mir sagte, aber ich kann mich nicht erinnern, ein besonderes Interesse dafür verspürt zu haben.

Mein Vater, weit entfernt davon, besonders puritanisch zu sein, war nach den Maßstäben des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts und der Church of Ireland recht hochkirchlich eingestellt und wie bei der Literatur war auch sein Zugang zur Religion demjenigen, den ich später für mich fand, gerade entgegengesetzt. Er hatte eine spontane Freude am Reiz der Tradition und der poetischen Schönheit der Bibel und des Gebetbuchs (alles Dinge, die ich erst spät und mit Mühe schätzen lernte) und man müsste wohl lange nach einem gleichermaßen intelligenten Menschen suchen, der sich so wenig aus Metaphysik machte wie er.

Über die religiöse Einstellung meiner Mutter kann ich so gut wie nichts aus eigener Erinnerung sagen. Jedenfalls hatte meine Kindheit ganz und gar nichts Überirdisches an sich. Von dem Spielzeuggarten und den grünen Hügeln abgesehen war sie noch nicht einmal sehr fantasieanregend. In meiner Erinnerung lebt sie vornehmlich als eine Zeit alltäglichen, prosaischen Glücks und sie erweckt in mir nicht die schmerzliche Sehnsucht, mit der ich auf meine viel weniger glückliche Jugendzeit zurückblicke. Nicht das gefestigte Glück, sondern die momentane Freude ist es, die die Vergangenheit verklärt erscheinen lässt.

In diesem allgemeinen Glück gab es eine Ausnahme. Meine früheste Erinnerung ist der Schrecken gewisser Träume. Das ist ein verbreitetes Problem in diesem Alter, aber immer scheint es mir noch merkwürdig, dass sich in dem umhegten und behüteten Raum der Kindheit so oft ein Fenster öffnet und den Blick freigibt auf etwas, das der Hölle sehr nahekommt.

Meine bösen Träume waren von zweierlei Art, nämlich Träume von Gespenstern und Träume von Insekten. Davon waren die Letzten mit Abstand die schlimmeren; noch heute würde ich lieber einem Geist begegnen als einer Tarantel. Und noch heute bin ich versucht, meine Phobie zu rationalisieren und zu rechtfertigen. Es ist wie Owen Barfield mir einmal sagte: „Das Schlimme an den Insekten ist, dass sie wie französische Lokomotiven sind – die ganze Mechanik sitzt an der Außenseite." Die Mechanik – das ist es, was mir zu schaffen macht. Ihre eckigen Gliedmaßen, ihre ruckartigen Bewegungen, ihre trockenen, metallischen Geräusche – all das lässt mich entweder an lebendig gewordene Maschinen denken oder an Lebewesen, die zu Mechanismen degeneriert sind. Man könnte hinzufügen, dass wir im Bienenstock und im Ameisenhügel die beiden Dinge voll umfassend verwirklicht sehen, die mancher für unsere eigene Spezies am meisten fürchtet: die Herrschaft des Weibchens und die Herrschaft des Kollektivs.

Ein Umstand im Zusammenhang mit der Geschichte dieser Phobie ist vielleicht berichtenswert. Als ich viel später, als Jugendlicher, Lubbocks Ants, Bees, and Wasps las, entwickelte ich für kurze Zeit ein regelrecht wissenschaftliches Interesse an Insekten. Es wurde bald von anderen Lerngebieten verdrängt; doch während meiner entomologischen Phase war meine Furcht fast verschwunden und ich neige zu der Auffassung, dass eine wirklich objektive Wissbegier stets diese reinigende Wirkung haben wird.

Ich fürchte, die Psychologen werden sich nicht damit zufriedengeben, meine Insektenangst mit dem zu erklären, was eine schlichtere Generation als ihre Ursache diagnostizieren würde – nämlich ein gewisses abscheuliches Bild in einem meiner Kinderbücher. Darin stand ein winziges Kind, eine Art Däumling, auf einem Pilz und wurde von unten her von einem Hirschkäfer bedroht, der viel größer war als es selbst. Das war schon schlimm genug; aber es kommt noch schlimmer. Die Fühler des Käfers bestanden aus separaten Pappstreifen, die an einer Nabe befestigt waren. Indem man nun einen teuflischen Mechanismus auf der Rückseite betätigte, konnte man sie dazu bringen, sich zu öffnen und zu schließen wie eine Pinzette: Schnipp-schnapp – schnipp-schnapp – ich sehe es vor Augen, während ich schreibe. Wie eine gewöhnlich so umsichtige Frau wie meine Mutter ein solches Gräuel im Kinderzimmer dulden konnte, ist schwer zu begreifen. Es sei denn (denn jetzt regt sich ein Zweifel in mir), dieses Bild ist selbst das Produkt eines Albtraums. Aber ich glaube es nicht.

1905, in meinem siebenten Lebensjahr, fand die erste große Veränderung in meinem Leben statt. Mein Vater, dessen Wohlstand wuchs, wie ich annehme, beschloss, das halbe Doppelhaus, in dem ich geboren war, zu verlassen und sich ein viel größeres Haus zu bauen, außerhalb der Stadt, wo damals noch freies Land war. Das „neue Haus", wie wir es noch Jahre später nannten, war selbst nach meinen heutigen Maßstäben groß; für ein Kind wirkte es weniger wie ein Haus als wie eine Stadt.

Mein Vater, der mehr Talent hatte, sich betrügen zu lassen, als irgendjemand sonst, den ich je kannte, wurde von den Bauunternehmern nach Strich und Faden betrogen; die Rohre funktionierten nicht, die Schornsteine funktionierten nicht, in jedem Zimmer zog es.

Uns Kindern machte freilich nichts von alledem etwas aus. Für mich war das Wichtige an diesem Umzug, dass er meinen Lebensrahmen erweiterte. Das neue Haus ist fast so etwas wie eine Hauptfigur in meiner Geschichte. Ich bin ein Produkt von langen Fluren, leeren, sonnendurchfluteten Zimmern, der Stille in den oberen Räumen, den Dachbodenzimmern, die ich in Einsamkeit erforschte, des fernen Gurgelns der Wasserbehälter und Rohre und dem Geräusch des Windes unter den Dachziegeln. Und ebenso ein Produkt unendlich vieler Bücher. Mein Vater kaufte alle Bücher, die er las, und gab keines davon je wieder her. Es gab Bücher im Arbeitszimmer, Bücher im Wohnzimmer, Bücher in der Garderobe, Bücher (zwei Reihen tief) in dem großen Bücherregal auf dem Treppenabsatz, Bücher in einem der Schlafzimmer, Bücher in Stapeln so hoch wie meine Schultern auf dem Speicher, wo der Wasserbehälter war; Bücher aller Art, in denen sich jedes vorübergehende Interesse meiner Eltern spiegelte, lesbare und unlesbare, für ein Kind geeignete und ganz und gar ungeeignete. Nichts davon war mir verboten. An den schier endlosen verregneten Nachmittagen holte ich mir einen Band nach dem anderen aus den Regalen. Ich konnte stets ebenso gewiss sein, ein neues Buch zu finden, wie ein Mann, der auf einer Wiese spazieren geht, gewiss sein kann, einen neuen Grashalm zu finden. Wo all diese Bücher gewesen waren, bevor wir in das neue Haus einzogen, ist ein Problem, das mir noch nie als solches aufgefallen ist, bevor ich mich daran machte, diesen Absatz zu schreiben. Ich habe keine Antwort darauf.

Draußen war „die Aussicht", die zweifellos der Hauptgrund für die Auswahl dieses Bauplatzes gewesen war. Von unserer Haustür aus blickten wir über weite Felder auf den Belfast Lough hinab und darüber hinaus auf die lang gezogene Kette der Berge am Antrim-Ufer – Divis, Colln, Cave Hill.

Das war in den weit zurückliegenden Tagen, als Großbritannien noch der Spediteur der Welt und der Lough voller Schiffe war; sehr zur Freude von uns Jungen, besonders aber meines Bruders. Der Klang einer Dampfersirene in der Nacht beschwört für mich immer noch meine ganze Jungenzeit herauf. Hinter dem Haus, grüner, flacher und näher als die Berge von Antrim, waren die Holywood Hills, aber sie gewannen meine Aufmerksamkeit erst viel später. Was zuerst zählte, war die Aussicht nach Nordwesten; die unendlichen Sommersonnenuntergänge hinter den blauen Bergkämmen und die heimfliegenden Krähen. Mitten in diese Welt begannen die Schläge der Veränderung zu fallen.

Zuerst wurde mein Bruder auf ein englisches Internat verschickt und verschwand so für den größten Teil eines jeden Jahres aus meinem Leben. Ich erinnere mich gut an die überschwängliche Freude, die ich empfand, wenn er in die Ferien nach Hause kam, aber nicht an eine entsprechende Niedergeschlagenheit, wenn er wieder abreiste. Sein neues Leben änderte nichts an unserer Beziehung zueinander. Ich wurde inzwischen weiterhin zu Hause unterrichtet; in Französisch und Latein von meiner Mutter und in allen anderen Fächern von Annie Harper, einer hervorragenden Hauslehrerin. Damals sah ich in dieser sanften und bescheidenen kleinen Dame ein ziemliches Schreckgespenst, aber nach allem, woran ich mich erinnere, bin ich sicher, dass ich ihr unrecht tat. Sie war Presbyterianerin; und ein langatmiger Vortrag, den sie eines Tages zwischen Rechnen und Aufsätzen einschob, ist in meiner Erinnerung das erste Ereignis, das mir die andere Welt auf eine Weise nahebrachte, dass sie mir als wirklich erschien.

Doch es gab viele andere Dinge, über die ich mehr nachdachte. Mein wirkliches Leben – oder das, was in meiner Erinnerung als wirkliches Leben erscheint – spielte sich zunehmend in der Einsamkeit ab. Nicht dass ich nicht genug Leute gehabt hätte, mit denen ich mich unterhalten konnte: Da waren meine Eltern, mein Großvater Lewis, wenn auch frühzeitig alt und taub geworden, der bei uns wohnte; die Hausmädchen und ein etwas trinkfreudiger alter Gärtner. Ich glaube, ich war eine unerträgliche Quasselstrippe. Doch wenn ich wollte, konnte ich mich fast immer in die Einsamkeit zurückziehen, entweder irgendwo im Garten oder im Haus. Inzwischen konnte ich lesen und schreiben; ich hatte allerhand zu tun.

Was mich zum Schreiben trieb, war eine ausgesprochene manuelle Ungeschicklichkeit, unter der ich seit jeher leide. Ich schreibe sie einem körperlichen Defekt zu, den mein Bruder und ich beide von unserem Vater geerbt haben; wir haben nur ein Gelenk im Daumen. Das obere Gelenk (das vom Nagel weiter entfernte) ist zwar zu sehen, aber das ist nur Blendwerk; wir können es nicht bewegen. Doch was der Grund auch sein mag, die Natur hat mich von Geburt an mit einer völligen Unfähigkeit bedacht, irgendetwas herzustellen. Mit Feder und Stift konnte ich durchaus umgehen und meinen Krawattenknoten bekomme ich immer noch so gut hin, wie ein Männerkragen es sich nur wünschen kann, doch im Umgang mit Werkzeug, Kricketschlagholz oder Gewehr, mit Manschettenknöpfen oder Korkenziehern bin ich immer völlig hilflos gewesen. Das war es, was mich zum Schreiben zwang. Ich sehnte mich danach, Dinge zu basteln, Schiffe, Häuser, Maschinen. Viele Bögen Pappe und Scheren ruinierte ich, nur um immer wieder in Tränen meine hoffnungslosen Versuche aufzugeben. Als letzten Ausweg nahm ich meine Zuflucht dazu, stattdessen Geschichten zu schreiben. In was für eine Welt des Glücks ich damit eintreten durfte, ahnte ich freilich nicht. Mit einem Schloss in einer Geschichte lässt sich mehr anfangen als mit dem schönsten Schloss aus Pappe, das je auf einem Kinderzimmertisch stand.

Bald beanspruchte ich einen der Dachspeicherräume für mich und machte ihn zu „meinem Arbeitszimmer". An den Wänden hingen Bilder, die ich entweder selbst gemalt oder aus den bunten Weihnachtsausgaben der Zeitschriften ausgeschnitten hatte. Dort hatte ich meine Feder, mein Tintenfass, meine Schreibhefte und meinen Malkasten; und dort –

Welch größres Glück kann ein Geschöpf befallen, als sich in Freiheit freun zu können?

Hier schrieb und illustrierte ich meine ersten Geschichten und war von beidem hochbefriedigt. Sie waren ein Versuch, meine zwei größten literarischen Vorlieben miteinander zu verbinden – Tiere in Kleidern und Rittergeschichten. Infolgedessen schrieb ich über heldenhafte Mäuse und Kaninchen, die in voller Rüstung auszogen, nicht um Riesen, sondern um Katzen zu erschlagen. Doch schon damals hatte ich einen starken Hang zum Systematisieren; die gleiche Neigung, die Trollope dazu trieb, sein Barsetshire so endlos in allen Einzelheiten auszumalen.

Das Tierland, das in den Ferien in Aktion trat, wenn mein Bruder zu Hause war, war ein modernes Tierland; es musste schon Eisenbahnen und Dampfschiffe zu bieten haben, wenn es ein Land sein sollte, an dem auch er Anteil hatte. Das bedeutete natürlich, dass das mittelalterliche Tierland, über das ich meine Geschichten schrieb, das gleiche Land in einer früheren Epoche sein musste; und selbstverständlich mussten die beiden Epochen richtig miteinander verbunden werden. Das brachte mich vom Geschichtenerzählen zur Geschichtsschreibung; ich machte mich daran, eine vollständige Geschichte Tierlands zu verfassen.

Obwohl mehr als eine Version dieses lehrreichen Werkes erhalten ist, gelang es mir nie, es bis in die moderne Zeit zu führen; als Historiker hat man allerhand zu tun, die Jahrhunderte zu füllen, wenn man sich alle Ereignisse selbst ausdenken muss.

Doch es gibt ein Merkmal an diesem Geschichtsbuch, an das ich mich heute noch mit einem gewissen Stolz erinnere. Die Ritterabenteuer meiner Erzählungen wurden in dem Geschichtswerk ganz am Rande erwähnt und der Leser wurde gewarnt, es handele sich dabei möglicherweise „nur um Legenden". Irgendwie – der Himmel weiß, wie – erkannte ich schon damals, dass ein Historiker eine kritische Einstellung gegenüber Erzähltexten einnehmen sollte.

Von der Geschichte war es nur ein Schritt zur Geografie. Bald entstand eine Karte von Tierland – sogar mehrere Karten, die alle einigermaßen miteinander harmonierten. Dann musste Tierland in eine geographische Beziehung zum Indien meines Bruders gebracht werden, das zu diesem Zweck seinen Platz in der wirklichen Welt zu räumen hatte. Wir machten es zu einer Insel, deren Nordküste hinter dem Himalaya verlief; die wichtigsten Dampfschiffrouten zwischen Indien und Tierland hatte mein Bruder schnell erfunden. Bald gab es eine ganze Welt und eine Karte dieser Welt, für die ich jede Farbe in meinem Malkasten brauchte. Und die Teile jener Welt, die wir als unsere eigenen betrachteten – Tierland und Indien – wurden zunehmend mit konsistenten Figuren bevölkert.

Von den Büchern, die ich zu dieser Zeit las, sind mir nur sehr wenige völlig aus dem Gedächtnis entschwunden, aber nicht alle sind mir heute noch so lieb wie damals. Ich habe nie Lust verspürt, Conan Doyles Sir Nigel, das mich zuerst auf Rittergeschichten stieß, nochmals zu lesen. Noch weniger würde ich heute Mark Twains Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court lesen, das damals meine einzige Quelle für die Arthur-Geschichte war und das ich um der durchscheinenden romantischen Elemente willen und ohne jegliche Beachtung des

Sie haben das Ende dieser Vorschau erreicht. Registrieren Sie sich, um mehr zu lesen!
Seite 1 von 1

Rezensionen

Was die anderen über Überrascht von Freude denken

4.0
29 Bewertungen / 32 Rezensionen
Wie hat es Ihnen gefallen?
Bewertung: 0 von 5 Sternen

Leser-Rezensionen

  • (5/5)
    This book is part of my C.S. Lewis collection. I went through a huge phase where I was just obsessed with anything and everything by him. While I don't agree with all of his theology, I do love his writing style and the things he has to say about faith. He was a good one.
  • (3/5)
    I might not have been surprised by joy as I read this book - it was far to factually autobiographical for me, and not what I expected - but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed parts of it. Both Lewis's description of his childhood education (and the hotbed of homo-eroticism that private boys-only schools were) was brilliant and non-judgemental and his glossed-over, but no less harrowing, account of his experience in WW1, provided an intriguing glimpse into a byone era.Perhaps this was my biggest problem with the book - I expected a deeply inspiring, imaginative and very personal account of his spiritual awakening. Instead, this book is mainly autbiographical with a few paragraphs here and there covering his spiritual journey. Emotion was thin on the ground - intellectual scholarship was densely packed into each sentence.Thanks to my long ago classical studies I could wade through the allusions without getting too lost, but still ... I wanted to be inspired, to feel what Lewis felt as he journeyed back to his God.Instead, it took me nearly two weeks to struggle through it because as a rule, I don't read autobiographies. Ultimately, this was more biographical than it was spiritual and thus SURPRISED BY JOY didn't meet my expectations as a reader.
  • (5/5)
    I certainly identified with Lewis’ evolution in faith. He describes it so spot-on, and provides certain key literature works; some I’d like to explore. He occasionally goes off subject and delights, such as describing the different cast of sunlight in Ireland compared to England. I’ve never read a better nonfiction writer for nailing descriptions.
  • (5/5)
    An awesome inspirational book that takes us through the life of C.S. Lewis, but could it could be our own story also. From childhood to the teen years Lewis struggles through many of the same life, spiritual conflicts that everyone goes through. The inspiration comes to those who know what he did with his life later and the lessons he took from his early life. Narnia is often considered his and his brothers play time adventures. These adventures as young child may have been just play, but the depth of his learning and philosophy formed in his early life formed the basis for all his writing. From his falling away to his return to Christianity, it was his early life experience that brought him to the point of being a true man of God.
  • (4/5)
    It was interesting to note that much of what he wrote about his own growing up was not new since I have read a couple biographies of him and the info on his early years is very much drawn from this book.

    I loved what he said about experience. I don't have the book with me now to quote it but he explained that when you stop experiencing and start to analyze it you stop experiencing. He pointed out that he realized he missed out on a lot by analyzing it to death instead of just living in the moment to its fullest. I'm frequently guilty of this myself and didn't realize it until he started talking about it.

    Good book and well worth the read.
  • (2/5)
    Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life is an autobiography of C.S. Lewis' childhood to sometime in university.

    The first several chapters of his schoolboy days are quite boring. It's almost as though he feels compelled to record the story for posterity but does not do so with much passion-- I don't think he looks back on his childhood with much enjoyment. His mother dies of cancer when he is young, and his father never fully recovers. His best friend was his slightly older brother. You don't get much of a sense of whether Lewis was affable or awkward; it appears he loved little more than reading.

    Lewis was Irish and he and his brother initially attended a boarding school in England. I have never read any positive accounts of English schools, and this is no exception. All it seems to do is alienate kids from their families, who they see infrequently. The headmaster was likely insane. Later, Lewis attends a public high school and hates it and recounts the social drama. He criticizes current members of Parliament for insisting the English educational tradition continue. Lewis contends all it does is make people "priggish"-- snobbish and bitter. He is thankful that he didn't become as snobbish as others from the experiences.

    Lewis learned Latin at an early age and began reading the classics. He also has an affinity for fantasy type books and enjoys mythology--something he has mixed feelings about. In his adolescence he makes friends with a neighbor boy who shares Lewis love for Norse mythology and other fiction--his first real friendship. Lewis eventually convinces his father to send him to live with a tutor to prepare reading for university exams. He later learns Greek and enjoys reading things like Herodotus' Histories in the original. He learns French and Italian to read classics in those languages, and enough German to get by (I'm rather envious at this point). England enters WWI, and Lewis' brother enters the service while Lewis prepares for university; he later decides to enlist and enter university afterwards. After a relatively mild Army service, Lewis is accepted to Oxford. He recounts his closest friendships, including with J.R. Tolkein, and his first real encounters with English literature, learning to appreciate Bronte and others.

    From an early age, Lewis had decided on atheism. He almost feels guilty with his affinity for books involving mythology, pantheism, and the occult. He develops the typical intellectual elitism of university atheists, wondering how anyone could believe otherwise. But he's troubled by reading other intellectuals who don't hold to atheism, including French philosophers who espouse pantheism. Aren't these all unsatisfying? During his university days he reads G.K. Chesterton and enjoys him, despite his Christianity. Real blows to Lewis steadfast atheism occur when his closest friends become interested in Christianity and begin reading the Bible. He begins to appreciate the consistency of other Christians he meet who actually live out what they believe. He says one of the biggest blows came when an adamant atheist he knew commented on the evidence for historical veracity of the Gospels-- "one can almost believe those things happened." The man never became a Christian, but just the fact that the evidences of real events being behind the writings of Scripture being stronger than other classics that Lewis had read made a real impact. Lewis' lifetime of reading Latin and Greek mythology allowed him to see that the Gospels were not written as myths-- they did not have the same qualities. Lewis contends that the only two valid worldviews could be Christianity or Hinduism, but notes that Hindu mythology lack the historical evidences and basis that Christianity has; hence, he rejects Hinduism. Lewis also had a nagging sense of lack of joy-- something he was unsure whether he wanted. But it seemed Christianity would be the solution-- it would give him a worldview with a finality of how it all comes together. It would free him to love.

    So, on the final pages Lewis decides to become a Christian. No Emmaeus road experiences, just a decision to become a Christian while going to the zoo. Thus the book concludes abruptly.

    I give it 2.5 stars out of 5. If you're a huge C.S. Lewis fan, then you can read this book to understand the man better. If you're just interested in the final events leading Lewis from atheism to Christianity, as many were at the time of his writing, then read the last few chapters.
  • (4/5)
    I very nearly loved this book. Lewis's path---although very different from my own---resonates with me in so many ways. Lewis has so many insightful things to say, and I found myself citing this book frequently in conversations. My spouse was very tolerant of this. He did gradually follow up my, "You know, this reminds me of something C.S. Lewis says in his Surprised by Joy..." with a mumbled "Of course it does." But he still listened to what I said next.

    Most of the things Lewis says that I found near mind-blowing, other people didn't seem excited about at all when I relayed them, which was a little frustrating. Throughout the book, Lewis paints himself as a man apart from the crowd, someone misunderstood and largely content to be so. I shouldn't have been surprised that other people didn't share my excitement when I talked about the ways in which I could relate to a fellow who couldn't really relate to other people.

    I do think I understand better some of the anti-Lewis sentiment I hear sometimes. The first thirteen chapters were, I thought, awesome, aside from a few gratuitous judgmental bits he tosses in there without much elaboration (like that one of his friends was nearly as exasperating to talk to as a woman). These were especially annoying because he goes to such lengths to see things from different perspectives and to avoid judgment in most all of the book. These rare moments of judgment seem out of character, like he's trying to be chummy with the reader in a way, tossing out little conversational barbs.

    Or maybe these are rare moments of the true Lewis that he masks the majority of the time, because it does happen with more areas more pertinent to the book's subject. At one point, Lewis defines "chronological snobbery" as "the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited." Later he claims that Paganism is merely a stepping stone to more mature religions, and seems completely oblivious to the fact that this smacks of the very "chronological snobbery" he claims to have sloughed off. The only other proof he offers that Paganism "had been the childhood of religion" is the fact that he embraced it when he was a child, and he later decided it wasn't doing it for him and moved on to something else. It's fine if he's made this personal conclusion so long as he doesn't make it sound as though it's an established truth.

    I understand how Lewis makes the transition from Atheism to Theism, but I don't really get how he goes from a belief in God to belief in a very specific, anthropomorphic God who acts directly and consciously in the universe, and I really don't get how he makes the leap from here to Christianity. (But then, perhaps from "anthropomorphic God" to "anthropomorphic God coming to Earth as a human for the purpose of dying for our sins" it's more a step than a leap.) This might be just because he doesn't understand how he became Christian, either (which he admits in Chapter XV). This is totally fine, except that I thought that was kind of what the book was supposed to be about, and I really wanted to know how he got from Atheism to Christianity. Maybe if I want that, I need to read more of his other writings on Christianity.

    You know, my overall reaction to this book reminds me of two things C.S. Lewis says in his Surprised by Joy:

    "Of course he shares your interests...[b]ut he has approached them all from a different angle. He has read all the right books but has got all the wrong thing out of every one. It is as if he spoke your language but mispronounced it."

    and

    "I was by now a sufficiently experienced reader to distinguish liking from agreement. I did not need to accept what [Lewis] said in order to enjoy it."

    One more thing: I'm re-reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with my kids right now, and I'm finding a lot of Lewis's conversion story and opinions about his own childhood beliefs about religion and faith woven through there since reading Surprised by Joy. I worry that some of the magic of both books is suffering as a result.

  • (5/5)
    In this book Lewis tells of his search for joy, a spiritual journey that led him from the Christianity of his early youth into atheism and then back to Christianity.
  • (5/5)
    As is typical for a Lewis book, a very, very deep discussion, and at times,very difficult to follow. Perhaps the most difficult parts are Lewis' reference to so many literary classics of his time, most of which someone today would likely have very limited knowledge - so it is difficult to relate to how he is explaining his experience. However, his movement from his childhood days to his eventually embracing Christianity always move forward. It is very interesting to hear him discuss the influences of the early death of his mother, his less than satisfactory relationship with his father afterward, his close relationship with his brother and and the wildly varying relationships with his teachers and adult acquaintances had on his life and coming to Christianity. Despite the difficulty of reading the book at times, I thoroughly enjoyed it and am encouraged to pick up another one of his books in the future.
  • (5/5)
    I love Lewis, in a way only he can he says how I have always felt but never been intelligent enough to put into words. I finished this book in the quiet of an early morning in my little nephews messy room, tears and hugging the book followed. What a treat!
  • (2/5)
    Like so many others, I greatly enjoyed the Narnia series when I was growing up. I read it for fun and had no idea that it was a Christian allegory until I was an adult. While my daughters enjoyed them (one has read them at least four times) they disappointed me somewhat as an adult. However, I have tried a few times to read other books by Lewis, but this is the first one I’ve made it all the way through. To be honest, what kept me going is that this will be part of a book discussion with some old reading friends. I read a chapter per day as if it were a school assignment.The two stars are not because Lewis was unable to write or articulate his thoughts, because he certainly did. However, as a memoir of his journey to atheism and then to Christianity, a subject of keen interest to me, it ended up having little appeal. It was more of his educational and intellectual journey through his youth, punctuated by descriptions of life away at different schools, until he became a Christian. Of course, it’s another example of a brilliant intellectual coming around from atheism to Christianity, something so many feel is impossible, but there was little to tug at my heartstrings or to empathize or sympathize as much with him as I would have liked to given so many of his circumstances. Perhaps it’s because he write it when he was will into his fifties and was so far removed, but I think perhaps it may have been because he was not ever given to having many friends when he was growing up, nor did he really want them most of the time, and those he did make were usually as intellectual as he was.That said, Lewis had some interesting insights at times, but what I found irksome was that girls and women tend to only appear as the odd relative hosting some sort of gathering (his mother died when he was very young) almost another species, or were referred to in light of erotic passion not being a substitute for joy, or how lack of girls in the area led to increased pederasty in public school and how it affected or was affected by the social hierarchy (that’s the term he employed for that) or other things equally bereft of any recognition of women as humans with a capacity for intelligence.
  • (4/5)
    C. S. Lewis's Surprised By Joy is subtitled "The Shape of My Early Life," and is mainly about his childhood and young adulthood. In this spiritual autobiography Lewis traces the slow hand of God moving in the events and influences of his young life, through his atheism and finally into his spiritual surrender when he finally, reluctantly admitted that "God was God" (228).Some things shocked me (I can't take the rampant pederasty of British public schools with quite Lewis's aplomb); other things merely surprised me. I learned a lot of things I didn't know about Lewis, such as his difficult relationship with his brilliant but eccentric father, his various boarding-school experiences, and his interest in the occult.He traces his atheism and general pessimism about life as far back as the chronic, unusually marked clumsiness he possessed even as a child. He believes that because of this clumsiness, he soon grew to expect that everything he touched would go wrong somehow, that things going well was the exception and not the rule. His mother's death of cancer when he was ten years old also had a profound effect on his worldview.Lewis also explores his early creative and rational influences. His friend Arthur had a strong part in helping Lewis appreciate what Arthur termed "Homeliness," a type of cozy beauty in sharp contrast to Lewis's passion for Wagner and Norse mythology and what he called "Northernness." This passion Arthur also shared, but rounded it with a love of simple, wholesome sights and ideas. Lewis also talks about his friend Jenkins who taught him to savor the taste of everything, even ugly things, to enjoy them fully for what they are. The influence of Lewis's strictly rationalist tutor, William Kirkpatrick, is also acknowledged as a deep debt. All of this is written in Lewis's characteristically excellent prose. I loved this passage about his final thrashings before accepting the reality of God:The fox had been dislodged from Hegelian Wood and was now running in the open, "with all the wo in the world," bedraggled and weary, hounds barely a field behind. And nearly everyone was now (in one way or another) in the pack; Plato, Dante, MacDonald, Herbert, Barfield, Tolkien, Dyson, Joy itself. Everyone and everything had joined the other side. (225)I am finding that the more I learn about Lewis, the more divided I become. I agree with him more; I agree with him less. It is hard to really articulate where we are different (well, besides his obvious and all-permeating Arminian leanings which conflict sharply with my Calvinist tenets). I think one of the issues may be Lewis's reliance on and almost religious respect for literature besides the Bible. Of course he is detailing a period in which he was first reading the world's great literature as a student and lover of beauty, so naturally he will have a lot to say about its influence on his thinking and development. And I have to remember too that Lewis is a Christian thinker, not a pastor charged with preaching the full counsel of God and illuminating Scripture to his flock. I do think, however, that at bottom I have a much deeper reverence for Scripture than Lewis has displayed in the books of his that I've read so far. This both simplifies and complicates my thoughts about him and his work. The thread that ties everything together in this story is the central idea of Joy, which Lewis describes as the "unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction" (17–18). These flashes of beauty, themselves insufficient, point to something else, something outside the person experiencing this longing. Ultimately Lewis connects Joy with the desire to know the source of all Joy, God. Those flashes of beauty and the unfulfilled longings are divinely given. And yet they are not the goal. Lewis writes, But what, in conclusion, of Joy? for that, after all, is what the story has been mainly about. To tell you the truth, the subject has lost nearly all interest for me since I became a Christian... I believe (if the thing were at all worth recording) that the old stab, the old bittersweet, has come to me as often and as sharply since my conversion as at any time of my life whatever. But I now know that the experience, considered as a state of my own mind, had never had the kind of importance I once gave it. It was valuable only as a pointer to something other and outer. While that other was in doubt, the pointer naturally loomed large in my thoughts. When we are lost in the woods the sight of a signpost is a great matter... But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we will be grateful to the authority that set them up. But we shall not stop and stare, or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are of silver and their lettering of gold. "We would be at Jerusalem." (238)This was a fascinating read on so many levels. Recommended.
  • (4/5)
    “In reading Chesterton, as in reading MacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere — "Bibles laid open, millions of surprises," as Herbert says, "fine nets and stratagems." God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”In Surprised by Joy C. S. Lewis describes his life from his early childhood up to about 30 years of age when he was converted to Christianity. A journey from atheism, to theism and finally to the Christian faith. I liked the first part of the book best. His description of home in Ireland, the loss of his mother which marked him for life, the estranged father, the close connection with his brother Warnie. A lot of space is devoted to his very bad experiences in school, the horrible teachers and the cruel fellow students. Also a lot about how his logical thinking is sharpened by his teacher and mentor, The Great Knock, W. T. Kirkpatrick.Surprised by Joy reminded me of how our faith is shaped by so many things, not only our own pursuits and reasonings, but experiences in childhood and youth, the friends we have, the mentors and peers we learn from.Lewis kind of lost me in many of his philosophical thinking about the source of “Joy” about nordic and greek myths and the “true myth” of Christianity. His journey to faith in Christianity didn’t resonate with my own - but that is the beauty of it. We all have our own spiritual journey and the “leap of faith” is highly individual.
  • (2/5)
    You will need to be a literary buff or extremely well versed in literature to appreciate this book, for it has numerous literary references to explain his ideas. It is a description of his non-Christian days before conversion which I did not find interesting.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this journey to accept the love of God. Some of my favorite quotes include:
    I was now by no means unhappy; but I had very definitely formed the opinion that the universe was, in the main, a rather regrettable institution.
    A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere
    The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.
  • (4/5)
    In this short memoir, C. S. Lewis describes his spiritual journey from youthful atheist to firm and faithful believer. This isn't so much a memoir of Lewis' life, although it does contain some interesting anecdotes about his school years, he only focuses on incidents in his life that impacted his spiritual development. I have read many spiritual development memoirs, and this one is like the others...only it stands out because it is a classic--It was written when these types of journeys were not as commonly shared in memoirs. (In fact, I suspect that this book inspired so many of the spiritual-journey memoirs that we see today.) One thing I found interesting about this book is it explained to me why so many people retro-diagnose Lewis with Asperger's syndrome. He talked about his difficulties dealing with other students...not knowing how to respond in social situations...being told to "take that look off {his} face" when he was trying very hard to keep an appropriate facial expression. I think it is important to recognize that we can't accurately retro-diagnose people with today's syndromes, but it IS interesting to see how such personality traits were present in Lewis' day, and how he excused them with stories about how childhood events affected his social interactions. It was definitely an interesting read...and anyone who likes to hear about others' spiritual journeys really should start with C. S. Lewis.
  • (5/5)
    Philosophy is not a subject, it is a way of living. For the brave! Lewis conversion to christianity is a a modern retelling of the story of Jacob´s fight with the Angel. With his head very much sleeping on a stone the fight was long and hard. But Lewis was not able to run from the questions raised and debated through the inborn dialectics that is our common human heritage since we took the fruit of knowledge. He explores fantasy in all its possible meanings; aknowledges all the roads fantasy can bring us on, including the sexual, occult and magical fantasies. He find that they all leaves him unfulfilled, they do not bring joy like the joy he knows through glimpses (most of us experiences), the unexpected bliss, that neither sex nor the occult or magical can replace. God was not the obvious solution for Lewis. A seasoned dialectician, the fight is long and hard. Lewis fights teism and Christianity until he is caught up in "an undebateable reality." We know the outcome of the conclusion he reached; To Lewis philosophy was not a subject, but a way of living, he continued to fight, bending fantasy to becoming the most unlikely soldier for the ultimate human(e) reality.
  • (4/5)
    It's been quite a few years since I read this book, and I now have a far different worldview than I did when I read it, but this book continues to interest me as I continue to be interested in the possibility of and nature of religious experiences. It is no longer fresh in my mind what he wrote and, considering I read it back in High School, there was much that he discussed that probably meant nothing to me then that would mean something to me now. But that's why I'm writing this review with it as a distant memory, I want to talk about what was in the book that stuck with me.There exists a feeling that comes upon people at some times. I do not know if it comes to all people – though I have no reason for supposing that it is available to some men and not others, barring the possibility that it has to be prompted by certain environmental factors that some people may not be exposed to – what is important is that the feeling exists. In my opinion, the discussion of this feeling, which Lewis calls “joy” is the greatest contribution this book makes. If you are a Christian, this book is valuable as a discussion of some part of human nature that cries out for another world. If you are an atheist, this book is valuable as an example of some peculiarity of human psychology that leads people to search for God.“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.” (A quote from Mere Christianity, which I imagine was a reference to the desire that Lewis came to call “joy”)You will get plenty of discussion about the rampant homosexuality in the school Lewis was sent to (which was largely a result of Lewis's own overly-sexual and overly-suspicious view of his peers. His older brother was baffled by his portrayal of their school), you will get information about Lewis's time with Kirkpatrick where he began to put on intellectual muscle from a very logical, literal, and precise teacher, you will read about him enduring time as a soldier in World War I, him attaining a prestigious teaching post, and plenty about his love for mythology – especially Norse mythology. You won't find many logical proofs about what led him to Christianity. You won't get a list of facts that Lewis took into account to determine that Christianity was more likely than otherwise. The book would be worse if he included them, as they would detract from the main contribution the book makes: the personal and subjective account of what led a reasonable and intelligent man to place his faith in Christ, and his account of an experience of longing and desire called Joy.If you put aside the pretenses of commitment to facts and evidence that both sides posture with, you will get an glimpse of what can really move an intelligent man to faith – whether or not you consider a move to faith to be an improvement. Or, perhaps just as likely, you yourself may have felt what Lewis called Joy: a bittersweet longing and desire, in which case this book will give you an opportunity to read how he reacted to that experience. Or maybe you think Lewis is just a ridiculous man, well, he certainly won't change your mind here, but you might find some opportunities to laugh at him if that's how you get your kicks. If religious experiences and conversion stories interest you, or if you are interested in Lewis in general, I highly recommend the book. If your main interest is apologetics, I advise skipping this one.[As a general caution, I would recommend reading this book as events that happened in C. S. Lewis's life – as Jack would want you to believe them. This book was nicknamed “Suppressed by Jack” among those intimate with the details of Lewis's life. That's not to say it is not valuable, merely that it should not be taken as true, at least as far as it concerns Lewis's account of his external circumstances. If you want his biography, you can look up George Sayer's book Jack. This book is more valuable for insight into Lewis's internal development.]
  • (4/5)
    This introduction to the life of C. S. (Jack) Lewis goes into great detail about the imaginary worlds he and his brother created as young children in Belfast and his boarding school experiences. He was not in a particularly religious family but he had unlimited access to the many books his father collected. He valued his solitude and "hours of golden reading." He immersed himself in the world of the Norse gods and developed a dual inner-outer life, although he repeatedly reminds the reader that he never mistook imagination for reality.The turning point in his young life came when his mother died of cancer. He was only 9 years old at the time and his world was further turned upside down when he was sent to boarding school in England only one month after her death. This was the boarding school from hell. It was here that he began to seriously read the Bible and spent hours in prayer, perhaps to get relief from the brutal headmaster who was later declared insane. Prayers were answered and he changed school two years later. It was at Malvern prep school that he dabbled in the occult and dropped his Christian ideals "with the greatest relief" but still struggled with contradictory feelings. While he believed God did not exist, he was angry at Him for not existing and for creating the world in the first place! The purpose of writing this book was to relate his conversion experience. The many influences on Jack's life make for interesting reading, though the time spent in WWI and his early teaching career at Oxford are glossed over. Mostly, this is a book about the friends and "glories of literature" that slowly led him from the early path of his "stabs" of joy that he called an "unsatisfied desire which is more desirable than any other satisfaction" to the point of decision where "the great Angler played His fish and I never dreamed that the hook was in my tongue." It was in 1929 that Jack Lewis finally "gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England."
  • (4/5)
    C. S. Lewis's Surprised By Joy is subtitled "The Shape of My Early Life," and is mainly about his childhood and young adulthood. In this spiritual autobiography Lewis traces the slow hand of God moving in the events and influences of his young life, through his atheism and finally into his spiritual surrender when he finally, reluctantly admitted that "God was God" (228).Some things shocked me (I can't take the rampant pederasty of British public schools with quite Lewis's aplomb); other things merely surprised me. I learned a lot of things I didn't know about Lewis, such as his difficult relationship with his brilliant but eccentric father, his various boarding-school experiences, and his interest in the occult.He traces his atheism and general pessimism about life as far back as the chronic, unusually marked clumsiness he possessed even as a child. He believes that because of this clumsiness, he soon grew to expect that everything he touched would go wrong somehow, that things going well was the exception and not the rule. His mother's death of cancer when he was ten years old also had a profound effect on his worldview.Lewis also explores his early creative and rational influences. His friend Arthur had a strong part in helping Lewis appreciate what Arthur termed "Homeliness," a type of cozy beauty in sharp contrast to Lewis's passion for Wagner and Norse mythology and what he called "Northernness." This passion Arthur also shared, but rounded it with a love of simple, wholesome sights and ideas. Lewis also talks about his friend Jenkins who taught him to savor the taste of everything, even ugly things, to enjoy them fully for what they are. The influence of Lewis's strictly rationalist tutor, William Kirkpatrick, is also acknowledged as a deep debt. All of this is written in Lewis's characteristically excellent prose. I loved this passage about his final thrashings before accepting the reality of God:The fox had been dislodged from Hegelian Wood and was now running in the open, "with all the wo in the world," bedraggled and weary, hounds barely a field behind. And nearly everyone was now (in one way or another) in the pack; Plato, Dante, MacDonald, Herbert, Barfield, Tolkien, Dyson, Joy itself. Everyone and everything had joined the other side. (225)I am finding that the more I learn about Lewis, the more divided I become. I agree with him more; I agree with him less. It is hard to really articulate where we are different (well, besides his obvious and all-permeating Arminian leanings which conflict sharply with my Calvinist tenets). I think one of the issues may be Lewis's reliance on and almost religious respect for literature besides the Bible. Of course he is detailing a period in which he was first reading the world's great literature as a student and lover of beauty, so naturally he will have a lot to say about its influence on his thinking and development. And I have to remember too that Lewis is a Christian thinker, not a pastor charged with preaching the full counsel of God and illuminating Scripture to his flock. I do think, however, that at bottom I have a much deeper reverence for Scripture than Lewis has displayed in the books of his that I've read so far. This both simplifies and complicates my thoughts about him and his work. The thread that ties everything together in this story is the central idea of Joy, which Lewis describes as the "unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction" (17–18). These flashes of beauty, themselves insufficient, point to something else, something outside the person experiencing this longing. Ultimately Lewis connects Joy with the desire to know the source of all Joy, God. Those flashes of beauty and the unfulfilled longings are divinely given. And yet they are not the goal. Lewis writes, But what, in conclusion, of Joy? for that, after all, is what the story has been mainly about. To tell you the truth, the subject has lost nearly all interest for me since I became a Christian... I believe (if the thing were at all worth recording) that the old stab, the old bittersweet, has come to me as often and as sharply since my conversion as at any time of my life whatever. But I now know that the experience, considered as a state of my own mind, had never had the kind of importance I once gave it. It was valuable only as a pointer to something other and outer. While that other was in doubt, the pointer naturally loomed large in my thoughts. When we are lost in the woods the sight of a signpost is a great matter... But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we will be grateful to the authority that set them up. But we shall not stop and stare, or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are of silver and their lettering of gold. "We would be at Jerusalem." (238)This was a fascinating read on so many levels. Recommended.
  • (4/5)
    With respect and apologies to Lewis:I love this book--it was one of the first Lewis that I read after the Narnia books and Mere Christianity. Only years later did it occur to me that--in my most humble opinion--Lewis had chosen the wrong word for that illusive feeling so close to the sorrow of loss, which eventually led him to faith. In my opinion--and based as much on my own experiences as the pages of this book--Lewis felt a longing for he knew not what, only knowing that without it he was not whole. I know or knew this feeling. To put this in the words of Tolkien, if one is blessed to discover the reality behind or beyond the longing, -then- the person experiences the eucatastrophe of Joy.Complete joy does not come first as Lewis' words in this book imply repeatedly. Yes, perhaps an ephemeral glimpse or taste of it, but it is blended almost on the instant with its loss. Real joy comes when what is behind the glimpses abides.I probably shouldn't have written this. As someone said, "Words are hard". Or perhaps stubborn. Never more so than when trying to describe something so ephemeral.
  • (5/5)
    This autobiography by C.S. Lewis provides some insights into his early life, his mind, and his conversion to and belief in the Christian God. A bit rambling at times (as if you need to be in his head to fully understand) and, of course, heavily biased with religious overtones, it is nonetheless an interesting look at the famous author of The Chronicles of Narnia and other works.
  • (5/5)
    In his introduction, Lewis makes it clear that he is not writing your normal autobiography, but is writing specifically about the events leading up to his conversion to Christianity. In some ways, I found it to be the autobiography of a mind and heart, from his early days in boarding school, his interests in mythology, and his growing dissatisfaction with the philosophies he once adhered to.I have difficulty conceiving of anyone enjoying the book unless they agreed with either his particular scholar's mind or his belief in the God of Christianity. I happen to be in the latter camp, and confess that at times his mind eluded me. Whole passages referring either to the books that most moved him or schools of modern thought of his times completely eluded my grasp, and I can only conclude that my mind must work very differently from his or that I must have a longer time on this earth before I can fully grasp his reflections on childhood, boyhood, and young adulthood. Yet then a sentence, a thought, would break through and give me pause or move me to tears. This is a book that I would reread not so much because of any initial enjoyment but because my appreciation would increase, perhaps once I read another biography or some of the classics which molded his thought.
  • (3/5)
    This book is great for anyone, but most especially for those who wonder if Christianity is substantive. It is also beneficial for those who want to strengthen their ability to articulate the substantial nature of Christianity. It merits reading because it is about a man who became a prolific writer and one of the greatest apologists for Christianity in the 20th century. C.S. Lewis in his pursuit of truth was atheistic but made a 180 degree turn about to embrace Christianity. This largely came about by those authors that he read (and, of course, by being decidedly responsive to God’s grace). He speaks of a thread of occasions in his journey when he experienced inexplicable joy, and he gives insight into his personal experience, of the events and the persons that shaped him, and more primarily the great authors that influenced him.
  • (5/5)
    Surprised by joy--impatient as the wind. Lewis tells of his early life. His father came from Welshmen, true Welshmen who were sentimental, passionate, and rhetorical, easily moved to anger and to tenderness; men who laughed and cried a great deal and who had not much of the talent for happiness. The Hamilton's (his mother's people) were a cooler race. Their minds were critical and ironic and they had the talent for happiness in a high degree--went straight to it as experienced travelers go for the best seat in the train. You must have a heart of stone not to read on.
  • (4/5)
    Despite having one of the worst covers I've seen in a while, this short account of C.S. Lewis' religious life, culminating in his conversion to Christianity, was worthwhile and enjoyable, though perhaps not as edifying on the topic of religious conversion as I had hoped. Too much of the book is focused on unrelated descriptions and stories which, though the story might be anemic without them, tend to draw away rather than complement the book's central concern. A more serious criticism of the book is that "Joy", which figures so prominently in the book's title, is underanalyzed and underdeveloped so that for Lewis to end on a note about Joy lacks the impact it might have otherwise had. Furthermore, I found that in general the episodes explicitly related to Lewis' religious conversion which punctuated the story were likewise too underdeveloped, the details too sketchy, the experiences too understated. Perhaps that is an inevitable fact when discussing the "mystery" of how such conversion takes place. Perhaps if, as Lewis says, he had been contemplating and reflecting enough to give more specific accounts of such experiences, the experiences themselves would have been thwarted and dulled precisely by such introspection. In any case, the quality of Lewis' prose is practically beyond compare, and whatever the subject matter or disagreements I may have with him, his writing is always a pleasure to read.A key quotation: "What I learned from the Idealists (and still most strongly hold) is this maxim: it is more important that Heaven should exist than that any of us should ever reach it."
  • (5/5)
    I am ashamed to say that it took me so long to rinally read this classic. Now, after having read it, I can testify that I was completely captivated by Lewis' journey to Christianity. It is always surprising when we realize that our joy is to be found in God, and that all the "joy" we've experience prior to salvation in Christ was not really joy at all, but rather lesser ideas of pleasure and happiness.
  • (4/5)
    Those looking for a "Christian testamony" will be somewhat disappointed. But Lewis, as usual, cuts deeper than most people are prepared to go. This is the story of his conversion to theism, and how JOY, an inconsistent and haunting companion, became a part of his life.
  • (2/5)
    The discussion of his early life is interesting, but I didn't find Lewis's reasoning all that compelling. I can see how he moved from a belief in the Absolute into Theism, but it almost seemed that he became a Christian only since it was the latest thing, an argument that (1) applies better to Islam, and (2) is a sort of a sin that he argues against in at least two other books.
  • (5/5)
    Who would've thought that so much self-talk could be so interesting? But Lewis uses his autobiography to analyze all the shades of intuitive thought that led to his conversion. Particularly relevant are his descriptions of "joy", an aesthetic experience which he eventually identifies as his longing for God. Though Lewis later acknowledged the importance of obedience, he was not the sort who would've been converted by it. This is conversion as seen through the eyes of a romantic. His thoughts on the schools of his boyhood era are also interesting.